States have been required to maintain registries of convicted sex offenders since 1994. Since that time, the laws regarding who must register and under what conditions have changed and evolved. Like all other states, Pennsylvania mandates that criminal defendants convicted of certain charges must register as sex offenders. Understanding what crimes require registration can be difficult because some minor sexual offenses might not be included while other non-sexual offenses are included.
Pennsylvania classifies registerable offenses under a three-tiered system. Each tier contains a list of offenses that require registration as a sex offender. These lists are quite long and include a wide variety of offenses. Additionally, each tier imposes different requirements for how long a convicted offender must register. Higher tiers will impose much longer registration requirements. It is important to discuss your case with an attorney to determine if your charges could place you on Pennsylvania’s sex offender registry and for how long.
Crimes of a sexual nature are not taken lightly in Pennsylvania or anywhere else. If you have been charged with such a crime, you need to contact a qualified lawyer immediately. Our Philadelphia sex crimes defense attorneys can help you understand the extent of your potential penalties while fighting to clear your name. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 to set up a free, private legal consultation with our dedicated legal team.
What Sex Crimes Lead to the Sex Offender Registry in Pennsylvania?
Numerous crimes can lead to mandatory placement on Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registry, ranging from misdemeanors (like unlawful restraint) to extremely serious felony offenses (such as rape). Because these “registrable offenses” span such a broad spectrum of severity, the duration of registration varies significantly depending on the nature of the underlying conviction.
The State of Pennsylvania divides registrable offenses into three numeric “Tiers”: Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III, with Tier III representing the most serious crimes. Certain crimes that require registration are not necessarily sexual in nature but involve child endangerment where the child is at risk of sustaining physical injury.
Many different offenses are contained in Tiers I, II, and III. If you are unsure where your offense might place you, remember that non-violent offenses or those that do not involve force are more likely to end up on a lower tier. Offenses that are forceful or involve greater sexual violence are more likely to end up on a higher tier. For example, the crime of video voyeurism, found under title 18 of the United States Code § 1801, is a Tier I offense in Pennsylvania and does not necessarily involve any physical contact between the defendant and the victim.
Certain crimes have the potential to lead to designation on more than one tier. It depends on the unique factors which may or may not have been involved in the individual incident. For example, institutional sexual assault is categorized as a Tier II Offense when the circumstances pertain to 18 Pa. C.S. § 3124.2(a.2-a.3), which specifically involves school and childcare settings. Under somewhat different circumstances, the same offense could be placed on Tier I instead.
How Long a Convicted Sex Offender Must be Registered in Pennsylvania
Precisely how long a convicted defendant must register as a sex offender in Pennsylvania will depend on which tier their charges fall under. Defendants convicted of multiple charges might be subject to even longer registration requirements. Contact our Pennsylvania sex crimes defense lawyers for more information and assistance with your case.
Tier I offenses are classified as the least serious offenses, but do not let this label fool you. These offenses are taken quite seriously and may be met with harsh penalties, including a lengthy registration period. Tier I offenders must register for 15 years before they become eligible for removal from the registry.
Tier II offenses are even more serious and require convicted defendants to register for even longer. A defendant convicted of a Tier II sex offense must register for no less than 25 years. Tier II offenses include sex offenses of greater magnitude, like trafficking and various forms of assault.
A Tier III offense is the most serious and has the longest registration requirements. A defendant convicted of a Tier III offense must register for the rest of their life. Offenders convicted of Tier III crimes are rarely allowed to terminate their registration requirements and must register for life even if they are never in any legal trouble ever again.
A person can also be required to register for life if they are convicted of two or more Tier II or Tier I offenses. If convicted of these offenses, do sex offenders have to notify neighbors in Pennsylvania? Contact our Pennsylvania sexual offense lawyers today.
Penalties for Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in Pennsylvania
It is absolutely crucial that all persons to whom these requirements apply register in a timely manner. Pennsylvania imposes very serious penalties for failure to register where required: you could be charged with an additional felony for noncompliance with Megan’s Law provisions. Convicted persons must register at the time of sentencing.
Registration is not a one-time thing. Convicted offenders must register when they are sentenced and continue to re-register for however long they are required to do so. Tier I offenders must register once every year. For Tier II offenders, they must register twicer per year, and Tier II offenders must register quarterly, or four time per year. Offenders are required to register in person at designated registration locations.
If a convicted defendant fails to register as a Tier I offender, they may be charged with a third-degree felony. If that defendant has previously been convicted for failing to register as a sex offender, they will instead be charged with a second-degree felony. Similarly, a convicted offender who registers but provides false personal information, such as a fake address, may also be charged with a second-degree felony.
The penalties increase if the failure to register is for an offender under a higher tier. A Tier II or Tier III offender who fails to register could be charged with a second-degree felony. If offenders have been charged for failure to register previously or provide false information when they register, they could be charged with a first-degree felony.
Registration requirements are very strictly enforced in Pennsylvania. Even something beyond the offender’s control, like a natural disaster, does not relieve them from timely registration. If you failed to register or are unsure about your registration requirements, contact our Pennsylvania sex crimes defense lawyers for help.
Pennsylvania Sex Offender Registration Requirements for Juveniles
Juvenile offenders may also be adjudicated for sexual offenses just like their adult counterparts. However, the juvenile justice system is much different than the adult system. The juvenile system often imposes more relaxed penalties and focuses more on the rehabilitation of the offender. The juvenile offender registration requirements, which formerly applied in the State of Pennsylvania, have since been deemed unconstitutional, and juveniles are generally not required to register as sex offenders unless they are categorized as a Sexually Violent Delinquent Child by the court.
Previously, juveniles were required to register as sex offenders just like adult offenders. However, in 2014, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that juvenile registration was unconstitutional. This ruling led to juvenile sex offenders being purged from the state’s registry, and most juveniles are no longer required to register. However, a juvenile who is deemed a Sexually Violent Delinquent Child must still register. In most cases, such a finding is made if the juvenile committed an especially violent sexual crime, like rape or crimes related to incest.
While juveniles are usually not required to register as sex offenders in Pennsylvania, other states may impose different rules. Moving a juvenile to another state might mean that the juvenile must register as a sex offender in that state. Contact our Pennsylvania sex crimes defense lawyers to discuss the registration requirements of your child.
Contact Our Philadelphia Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you have been charged with sex crimes in Philadelphia or elsewhere in Pennsylvania, it is critically important to seek advice from a criminal lawyer in Philadelphia with experience handling sex offenses. To schedule a free, confidential legal consultation, call our Philadelphia sexual assault defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long right away at (215) 302-0171.